Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) blossoms and buds macro picture
Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) in bloom

Researchers: Yes, Plants Have Nervous Systems Too

Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

Nature is so full of information whose origin we cannot really account for under currently acceptable hypotheses but nothing prevents us from using it to our advantage in the meantime.

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Circuit board. Electronic computer hardware technology. Motherboard digital chip. Tech science EDA background. Integrated communication processor. Information CPU engineering 3D render background

The Flawed Logic behind “Thinking” Computers, Part III

No program can discover new mathematical truths outside the limits of its code.

Not only is it valid to ask whether artificial intelligence is impossible but the argument can be pursued on a scientific basis with quantifiable, empirical evidence.

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I, Robot, am gathering dust in the sales room …

Why do robotics experts think that customers will warm to robots because they look like people?
The underlying assumption is surely incorrect. Robots like the Roomba succeed in part because they don’t look or act like people, let alone threaten people. They just do jobs people would prefer not to do or maybe can’t. Read More ›
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People-friendly robots company shuts down

The “cobots,” robots that can work with people, got the pink slip—for now
Robotics is a business like any other. The individual good idea requires a business plan that can survive savage years in the wilderness before the buyout. That said, we certainly haven’t heard the last of the cobot, which may be one of the ideas that make robotics practical for everyday business. Read More ›
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Can a stuffed toy turn into a robot?

Maybe to amuse a sick child? With the right skin, yes.
Robotic skins were developed at Yale for possible uses in space flight or search-and-rescue. But animating ordinary bendable objects is surely a fun way to introduce the idea. Read More ›
Personal Bitcoin Wallet with euro coins

How Bitcoin Works: The social value of trust

The idea of employing such a game to guarantee validity in a trustless environment is nothing short of groundbreaking. It is an amazing accomplishment, and I am impressed by it more each time I think about it. However, it does have some drawbacks, which, I think, will ultimately lead to its demise. Read More ›
Team welding Robot movement Industrial automotive part in factory

Karl Marx’s Eerie AI Prediction

He felt that capitalism would fall when machines replaced human labor
Because Marx held that the value of goods resided in the labor required to produce them, if goods were produced by automatons, without human labor, the economy would fall apart and capitalism would fail. Read More ›
Pile of colorful children’s alphabet wooden block toys

Imagining life after Google

Reviewers of George Gilder's new book weigh in
If we have simply taken the big software, hardware, and social media companies who dominate our lives for granted, the reactions from the business world to Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy should give us a lot to think about. Read More ›
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Could AI understand the universe?

World-renowned chemist thinks it might understand what we can’t, including consciousness
Atkins is arguing that the fact that we do not understand what consciousness is, far from being a barrier to creating artificial consciousness, offers the hope that, once we do create them, artificially conscious entities will understand consciousness but we won’t. The proposition sounds a bit confused, no? Read More ›
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Could HAL 9000 ever be built?

I say yes. Some reflections on the 50th Year Anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey
At one point on the trip from Earth to Jupiter, HAL becomes suspicious that the crew might be sabotaging the mission. HAL then purposely tries to kill all the crew. The most logical explanation for this act is a coding error. HAL was programmed to operate on the basis that the mission took priority over human life. Read More ›
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Robogeddon!! Pause.

Wait. This just in: AI is NOT killing all our jobs
Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines,sees it as more of a retooling than a meltdown. But retooling does mean change, work, cost, and risk. Read More ›
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Giant Google’s vulnerable spot

Social media are free because we are both the content and the market
Recently, we looked at philosopher of technology George Gilder’s Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy. But what form would that decline take? A look at the advertising picture offers one clue. Read More ›
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Can a game prove that computers could really think?

Philosopher Daniel Dennett thinks so. Let's apply Occam's Razor and see
While I agree with Dennett that Occam’s Razor shouldn’t be used overzealously, we shouldn’t be too reluctant to use it either. The reason why Dennett rejects Occam’s Razor in the Game of Life is that if he didn’t, then nothing in the Game of Life would be capable of possessing cognitive states. Read More ›
Lady justice, themis, statue of justice on sky background

Ethics for an information society

Because machines can’t learn to solve their own ethical problems
AI (machine learning) was probably faster and cheaper but the whole point of the system was supposed to be justice which, whatever the explanation, proved too difficult to calculate… Read More ›
Chinese crowd

AI tools for mass manipulation?

Machine learning can unleash a perfect storm of malice, experts warn
In 2017, a group of 26 AI researchers got together at Oxford and created a report which offers a number of examples of malicious technologies of the near future. Read More ›
MRI Image Of Head Showing Brain

Do big brains matter to human intelligence?

We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point
We also know very little about the human brain. Take this controversy about why the large human brain evolved... Read More ›
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Hell is a “parasocial” place

Where your "friends" may not even exist
Consumer digital hells can be dreadful indeed but they are mostly of our own making. The companies that profit from them are not forcing us to live in them. That said, students should be taught in school that the internet’s virtual world features a great deal of fakery, including fake friends. Read More ›
Close-up Shot of Hacker using Keyboard. There is Coffee Cups and Computer Monitors with Various Information.

Sometimes the ‘bots turn out to be humans

That “lifelike” effect was easier to come by than some might think
Companies sometimes pretend to be using AI or machine learning when they are actually using human employees for various reasons. One reason is that they have promised potential investors more high tech than they can deliver. Sometimes, as we learned recently at The Guardian, it gets a bit sticky... Read More ›